MIDDLETOWN, NJ –  After the recent extension of school closures in New Jersey and the related cancellation of spring sports, the disappointment with the lack of outdoor activities has become palpable. However, across New Jersey, signs of outdoor life are now beginning to show. Especially in Middletown, New Jersey.

The Governor recently amended orders to allow for state parks to open and, at the local level, Middletown has released big news on Friday. According to a news release , Middletown Township announced that it intends to re-open playing fields and facilities for team practices on Friday, May 15, provided it is deemed safe.

"We’re taking a practical and safe approach with each decision we make," said Mayor Tony Perry. "I, along with my colleagues, have faith that our community will continue to maintain social distancing in parks and fields, so that we can move forward together in reopening our town.”

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If the Township re-opens for organized team play practices on May 15, there will be guidelines & restrictions in effect until Sunday, June 14. Fields for organized team practices will be available on a first-come permitted basis and will be available to Middletown Township resident teams/leagues/organizations only. The current Township Field/Facility Request procedures will be followed requiring a new detailed, completed request form and a current & ACTIVE certificate of liability insurance naming the Township of Middletown as additional insured. No room or gym rentals will be available/permitted. 

“Over the next week, we will be closely monitoring the public health situation to ensure we can re-open,” said Township Administrator Tony Mercantante. Should the Township re-open the fields for organized team practices on May 15, below are the guidelines/restrictions:

Teams must use common sense & caution when on the fields at all times with good, social distancing followed, non-contact drills or exercises only & NO GAME-SIMULATED SCRIMMAGING OR CONTACT DRILLS. Teams are responsible for keeping all equipment clean & sanitized before, during and after all use.

Practices ONLY and shall consist of a maximum of ten (10) total participants including players/coaches/instructors present at any one time at any one field.

NO CAMPS/TRAINING/CLINICS/LEAGUE GAMES

Parents/Guardians/Siblings must either remain in their vehicles or leave during the practice. NO SPECTATORS ON FIELDS, SIDELINES OR BLEACHERS.

No lingering at the field or parking area either before or after practice. There is likely to be another group arriving so we need to minimize unnecessary interactions.

Parking at each facility will be reduced to 50% of current capacity.

Parks with multiple fields will have some fields open, some fields closed. Locations will be reduced to 50% field availability.

All trash, bottles, personal protection gear must be cleaned up & properly disposed of upon leaving the field.

Permits will be issued to Middletown Township Class I resident groups/organizations only.

Fields will not be lined nor will any other field markings provided or allowed to discourage scrimmages and games. Grass will be cut and infields dragged.

Lights will not be available on any field or facility.

Basketball courts are open but for shoot around use only, NO GAMES.

No room or gym rentals will be available/permitted.

There will be no bathrooms open or porta-johns.

Limited Tennis Courts are open but for play only, NO INSTRUCTIONS.

Failure to adhere to these guidelines may impact the continuation of continued use and the granting of future permits.

Middletown Township reserves the right to discontinue use and close all fields in the event of non-compliance or if deemed necessary by Municipal, County or State officials.

Township staff and Middletown Township Police will be observing use and enforcing strict social distancing and adherence to these regulations. If a group is found to be in non-compliance, they will be advised to modify or told to leave the field.

“It’s important that our youth are able get some exercise and fresh air to help improve both their mental and physical health,” said Mayor Perry. “We hope that we can continue loosening up the guidelines as we make progress overcoming this pandemic.”